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August 12th, 2019

Marketers Ramp Up Analytics Investment as Customer Data Collection Challenges Persist

You often hear that marketing has fully been transformed by data and analytics.

But if you talk to enough actual marketers, you realize just how far the industry has to go, and how early we are in that transformation.


There’s no doubt that marketers recognize the potential of embracing analytics. Still, it’s also increasingly clear that we as an industry have some major hurdles to overcome before true data-driven, customer-centric marketing is realized.


Neustar recently partnered with Adweek to interview over 300 marketers and the resulting Adweek Intelligence’s 2019 NexTech survey found that nearly one third of these marketers (32%) cited the lack of a clear data marketing strategy as the biggest challenge facing their company when it comes to data-driven marketing and advertising.


Clearly, there’s a lot of work to do.


Here’s the good news. Brands are stepping up their investment in a big way.


Three-quarters of these brands said they anticipate dialing up their spending on ad tech, marketing tech and programmatic tools and platforms next year. Nearly a quarter of the brand surveyed (24%) said they expect to spend significantly more in 2020.


The next few years appear to be crucial for most marketing giants to lay their analytical foundations. A healthy 68% of the marketers surveyed listed measurement and analytics tools as their investment priorities, with another 43% listing data management platforms as where they expect to invest more.


Of course, marketers are also aiming to better understand what’s working and what’s not in their marketing budgets. Indeed, 40% of respondents listed measurement and metrics as their biggest challenge regarding data-driven advertising.


Beyond ads, marketers focused on gauging how well they are connecting with consumers at every step of their individual customer journeys. In fact, 59% of marketers told us that customer experience - which includes virtually every digital and physical touchpoint with consumers - is underrated and warrants more focus.


Now for the tough news. Getting data all in the right place, and getting the right people to sign off on decisions (particularly big ticket marketing tech purchases) is difficult for any large organization. Thirty percent of respondents in our survey said their biggest hindrance in effective, data-driven marketing is that it’s not clear who “owns” consumer experience within their organization.


And that’s not easy to figure out, since CX touches so many different parts of a company- from e-commerce to fulfilment to data science teams to of course, marketing.


That dynamic also makes it challenging to pull together all the data a company needs to extract value from its analytics and programmatic tools. Nearly a third of respondents (32%) listed “managing siloed data” as their biggest challenge in adopting data-driven marketing and advertising.


Besides managing the data they have, every brand and ad agency wants access to more. The challenge there is that consumers and regulators are increasingly walling off such access. Given the recent headlines regarding data breaches and privacy mishaps at some of the world’s largest tech platforms, consumers are growing wary of sharing personal information with brands. In fact, sixty percent of the marketers we surveyed predicted that consumers will continue to revolt against ad targeting.


And of course, even as marketers race to up their analytics investments, they need to ensure they are compliant with increasingly restrictive data-tracking laws. That’s not something that happens overnight.


For instance, a year after the enactment of the General Data Protection Regulation - the European privacy law which set strict guidelines regarding the level of consent marketers must obtain from consumers - only 43% of the brands surveyed said they are fully compliant with the law.


Worse yet, just 13% of marketers said they are prepared for the highly restrictive The California Consumer Privacy Act, which goes into effect January 2020.


That dynamic would seem to exemplify the state of data-driven marketing. For as many advancements as the industry has made, brands have so much room to advance their practices - even as the rules of the road constantly change. There’s little doubt that data and analytics will drive the future of marketing. It’s just a question of when the future gets here.


As Joe Stanhope, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research put it at Adweek’s inaugural NexTech conference in July, “brands are chasing a moving target.”


He’s right in more ways than one.




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